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Canadian municipalities pass Lunenburg, NS resolution on CETA and local autonomy

At their board meeting in Iqaluit last week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities passed a resolution put forward by the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, to defend, in communications with the federal government on CETA and other trade agreements, the power of municipalities to make local spending decisions. It is a welcome move from the FCM but we were rooting for another, stronger CETA resolution from the City of Burnaby, B.C. that would have asked the federal government to “negotiate a clear, permanent exemption for municipalities from CETA.” Unfortunately, considering the risks to cities from international procurement agreements, this resolution was deemed contrary to existing FCM policy.

Prior to the FCM board meeting, Council of Canadians regional organizers and chapter members sent letters to most board members encouraging them to vote in favour of the Burnaby resolution. This would have created considerable friction between the FCM and the very pro-CETA Harper government, which probably factored into the decision to favour the Lunenburg resolution. But there is still hope in B.C., where the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) will also be voting on an almost identical CETA resolution at the end of the month.

From what we’ve heard, the chances are good that this resolution, also from Burnaby, will pass, though efforts are being made to raise its profile over the next few weeks. With the provinces at the CETA table making offers on behalf of cities, it’s vital that municipal interests be represented. If the UBCM takes a strong stand this month, demanding that cities and towns be excluded from CETA, the message will resonate among cities, and provincial and territorial governments across the country.

To read a recent legal opinion by Steven Shrybman for the Centre for Civic Governance on the effects of CETA on municipalities, click here.